Mammals Print E-mail

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

The Red fox is dog like and predominantly a nocturnal hunter with most of the day spent in ‘earth’, cavity in ground either made by fox or another Badger or a rabbits burrow taken over. Muzzle sharp, ears erect, eyes with elliptical vertical pupil. 5 toes on forefeet, 4 on hind feet. The fur is sandy to brownish with grey-white under parts and black on front of limbs and backs of ears, tail bushy forming a brush, with a white tip. The Dog fox and vixen are similar but vixens are smaller, lacks cheek ruffs and shorter coat. The fox swims well and climbs trees, use a variety of calls especially during winter, a scream from the vixen and barking from the dog. Despite hunting, poisoning, trapping the fox has not significantly diminished in the Lagan Valley Regional Park.

Habitat
Typically woodlands but highly variable, lowlands to mountains, scrub, farmland and survive well in urban areas.

Size
Average head and body of dog fox just over 60cm (24”)  tail 40cm (16”)
Height at shoulder 35 cm (14”)
Average dog fox weighs 6.8kg (15lb)

Diet
Mice, rabbits, fruit, birds, beetles, large mammals and invertebrates

Status
Frequent

Common otter (Lutra lutra)

The otter is an amphibious mammal, usually nocturnal coming out at Sunset, during the day lies up in reed beds, burrows, drains or hollow trees. It has a long lithe body, head broad and flat, face short, eyes black small but bright. Short, rounded hairy ears do not project beyond fur and legs are short and powerful. All feet are completely webbed and have five toes. The tail is long and broad and is used in the water as a rudder. Tracks and trails such as the black tarry ‘Spraints’ are the most likely ways of tracing these shy creatures in the Lagan Valley Regional Park. Breeding ‘holt’ may be a hole in a bank with entrance underwater or it may be well away from water.

Habitat
Lakes, rivers, streams and marshes, reed- beds and coastal waters. Can travel overland up to 12 miles in a night from pool to pool.
Some times moves up to upland areas when fish migrate up to head waters to spawn.

Size
Total Length of about 1.2m (4ft) of which 1/3 is tail. Weight of full grown male 9-12 kg (20-25lb)

Diet
Various fish, especially eels, frogs, newts, shrimp, occasionally wilducks, moorhens.
On land, Rabbits, rats, mice, voles, slugs, earthworms, beetles.

Status
Rare

Protection
Protected Species

Similar Species
American Mink

Common Seal

Common seals have fine spot-patterned grey or brown fur; rounded head with no ears visible; 'V' shaped nostrils. They feed at sea but regularly haul out on to rocky shores or inter-tidal sandbanks to rest, or to give birth and to suckle their pups. Young seals may travel distances of several hundred kilometres but adults appear to remain faithful to favoured haul-out areas from year to year. The particular sites used may, however, vary with the seasons. Common seals travel up to 50km from haul-out sites to feed and may remain at sea for several days. Here they spend time diving, staying underwater for up to 10 minutes and reaching depths of at least 50 metres.



Size
Head/body length: 140-185cm including flippers of about 20cm.
Weight: 8-16kg at birth; up to 130kg in adults.

Habitat
Sea, rocky shores, inter-tidal sand banks and estuaries and may be seen travelling into freshwater rivers including the Lagan

Diet
The way in which common seals hunt is poorly understood, but they are known to eat a wide variety of fish, including herring, sand eels, whiting and flatfish. Shrimps and squid are also sometimes eaten.